Archive for December 8th, 2008

Wharncliffe Viaduct

Monday, 8 December 2008


Wharncliffe Viaduct before it was widened.
Drawing by John Cooke Bourne

(The drawing is now in the public domain.)

Mystery picture 5 was, of course, Wharncliffe viaduct on the GWR mainline at Hanwell in the early 1900s. Well done Mark and Michael! The locomotive is not, as Mike thought Churchward’s one off experiment in building a pacific, The Great Bear. The boiler is too short. It much more likely that the engine is a Churchward Star.

The carriages are a rum lot with the first vehicle being an ancient, short wheelbase, clerestory coach. The others are more modern, but are not painted in the GWR’s characteristic chocolate and cream coach livery. Anyone any ideas?

Wharncliffe Viaduct is a brick-built viaduct that takes the Great Western Railway first main line across the Brent Valley, a few hundred yards to the west of Hanwell Station. The 65 ft high viaduct was built in 1836-7.

The viaduct was the first major structural design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the GWR, the first building contract to be signed, and the first major engineering work to be completed.